Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Healing Power of Love

I really ought to make more time to blog considering the healing effects it has on my soul. I feel like I have been on a journey of self discovery for the past couple of years. I know who I am as a child of God. However, I don't really know what brings me joy because I have never taken the time to really find out. For the past 24 years I have spent my time doing things that others told me I was good at. I enjoyed doing those things, yet I am not sure if I am passionate about them.

I had an experience somewhat recently that has been life changing for me. Honestly, I don't enjoy being vulnerable. However, considering how much I have learned through the experience, I think it would be wrong of me to not share at least a little bit of it. For the past couple of months I have been trying my best to be my best. I was going to the temple every week, reading my scriptures every day, praying all throughout the day, going to church, writing in my journal, taking a religion class, and surrounding myself with people who were trying to do the same things as me. One day I got myself in a situation where I probably should not have been. I thought I was strong enough to handle it. I ended up making mistakes in the moment. I recognized that I had crossed a line and I felt terrible. I knew it needed to be taken care of so that I could get back on the path I needed and longed to be on.

I remember sitting outside the church leaders office completely terrified. I thought "Well I deserve to be punished. I messed up. I will take whatever consequence is given to me because I deserve it. I knew better... What was I thinking. Why I am I such a failure? Ive disappointed so many people. I need to be punished." I was very hard on myself and I braced myself for the punishment that was waiting for me beyond that door. He opened the door for me and we sat down to talk. I told him what happened and I remember the several seconds of silence that followed. I clasped my hands together and looked down as I waited for his response. What came out of his mouth completely shocked me and to be honest I had no idea that the next couple of minutes would change my life forever.

He looked at me with a soft smile and a light in his eyes. He told me that he represented my Savior and he was there to tell me what the Savior wanted me to know. My clasped hands became less tight as I started to relax. He told me what I needed to do for the next couple of weeks. It was not harsh or mean. He simply just told me and then for the next 45 minutes he proceeded to build me up. He told me how much Heavenly Father loved me and how proud He was of me. We talked and he listened to my concerns. He listened with love and I realized there was a complete lack of judgement. There was only love in that room. My eyes glistened with tears as I started to absorb the situation I was in. I felt calm and the guilt I had previously felt had dissipated. I felt an increasingly large amount of hope. Hope for the future. Hope for my life. Hope and gratitude for my Savior. Gratitude for what He did for me. The Atonement became more personal to me in that moment. For the first time in a long time I realized again that in fact the Atonement was for ME. He died for ME. He loves ME. I was reminded of how real the Atonement is and the powerful healing that takes place in my life as I apply it. 

I left the office and pondered on our conversation. Then it hit me. This life changing realization. I reflected on how my interview went and I noticed that nothing about that interview was about the punishment. There were no harsh words or judgements made. There was no lecture on what I could have possibly been thinking. There was only love. I realized in that moment just how merciful and loving our Heavenly Father is.  He is a God of Love.  Pure, undefiled, ceaseless, eternal love. Love that knows no boundaries. I felt overwhelmed by what I had just discovered. It was not about the punishment. He doesn't sit up in heaven just waiting to punish us. Granted there are natural consequences to the choices we make, it has to be that way. But nothing about my interview was about the punishment, in fact it was all about love and getting myself to a place where I could feel my Heavenly Fathers love for me again. It was a healing, humbling, and life changing realization for me. I was loved despite any mistakes I have made or ever will make. I was loved because I was His daughter. That was enough. That will always be enough! He sees me for who I can be, for who He knows I will be. I was not seen with the blemishes I had in that moment. I felt uplifted and refreshed and ready to take on the world. It was His love that motivated me! It was His love that made me feel invincible... like I could do or be anything. His love gave me energy and peace. His love was making me whole.

I sat in my car and just let the tears roll down my face. It was cleansing and I was very grateful for that. As I really pondered my life, I realized that I make decisions based on fear. Fear has been my motivator. "If I do this, what will others think of me?" or "If I don't do this, what will others think of me?" The decisions I have made have not been bad, my motivation for them has just been for the wrong reasons. I learned from this interview that the thing that motivates me the most is love. I chose in that moment to never allow fear to be the determining factor in my life again. I am going to let love motivate me. I am going to change the way I made decisions and choices. I know it is going to be a process trying to change the way I have been thinking for the past 24 years of my life. However, I finally was shown where improvements can be made. I was made aware of it, so now I can work on changing it. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and love all over again. My prayers are being answered!

I started thinking about what I had learned in my religion class the night before. We were discussing the Plan of Salvation and how to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. My teacher shared a quote that struck me. It talked about how it is not perfect people that get into heaven; after all there are no perfect people. It said that all we have to do is get ourselves on the path and the Savior will carry us home. Once again I was in awe. I had never thought about it this way. My entire life I've tried to be perfect and only seen where I fall short. There have been many times where I have thought to myself, I can't do this. Even on my strongest days I have thoughts come to my mind that aren't always nice. I say things that can offend others. I don't ponder the Gospel as much as I should. I am just so aware of how imperfect I am. This quote talked about how it is Christ's grace that carries us home. He makes up the difference. We can't make it without Him. Nothing I do would ever be enough to get me back to my Father in Heaven on my own. I NEED my Savior. I cannot do it without Him. After this class, I started to view things differently. Now at night when I reflect on my day, I don't look at all my mistakes and see just how far from perfect I really am. Instead I see the progress I made from the day before. I look at how I saw God's hand in my life that day. I see where I fall short and I thank my Heavenly Father for my Savior who will make up the difference. Instead of a feeling of despair, I have a feeling of hope. I have a deeper appreciation for all my Savior did for me. All I need to do is try to live the Gospel. That's all He asks!

This whole experience has set me on an adventure to find out more about myself. I want to find out what brings me joy; what makes me happy. I want to work on changing my thought process and let love be the substance, determination, and motivation behind all I choose to do. I am so grateful for the things I have learned these past couple months. For the forgiveness I have witnessed in my life. I am SOOO grateful for my Savior, who loved me enough to atone for me. He loves me enough to carry me home. He loves me enough to take my burdens and place them on His back.  He loves me enough to descend below all things so, that in my moments of despair, He can understand and He can comfort me. He knows everything about me and He still loves me. That love He has for me has become the motivating force for all that I do. I can finally understand why people say love is the answer. Love allows change. Love allows growth. Love allows forgiveness and repentance to take place. Love gives us hope. Love gives us peace. Love... pure, undefiled love, changes the soul. I am SOO grateful to have a Heavenly Father who IS LOVE!